BLESSED MARTYRS OF TARRAGONA
The seven Claretian martyrs of Tarragona came from two communities very close to each other: Tarragona and La Selva del Camp. Their martyrdoms took place separately, at different times and places.
When the revolution of July 1936 broke out, our Brother belonged to the community of La Selva del Camp. His first concern was to take the elderly and sick Brother Ramon Garces to the Sanatorium run by the Sisters in Reus. From there, on July 24th, he travelled by train to Borges Blanques, walking the final 14 kilometres to Mollerosa, near Lérida. The train stopped longer than necessary in Vimbodí to change engines, and Antoni got out of the carriage to walk along the platform. Then someone of malicious intent suspected something strange and he was arrested. They marched him along the streets to the Police station and, at about noon, they took him along the road to the place called the Puntarró, where he was killed. Before dying, drawing strength from the bottom of his missionary soul, he shouted: “Long live Christ the King!”.
A few days after the death of Brother Antoni Capdevila, specifically on July 29th, Fr Jaume Mir was to suffer the same fate. The revolution caught up with him when he was directing a Retreat with the Carmelite Sisters of Charity in Francolí Esplugues. With the dissolution of the Religious Community on July 21st, he took refuge with them in the Chaplain’s house.
The martyrdom of Fr Jaume seems to bear the stamp of a vile betrayal. Wanting to move to Tarragona, he went to the Police station for the appropriate pass. He got it, but the people who gave it to him asked for it back the next day. He requested another, and was told there was no need for one, because they themselves were going with him to Montblanc Police station. The militiamen drove him to Montblanc to put him on the train. The truth is that, the same day, on the 29th in the afternoon, his body was laid to rest in cemetery of Tarragona.
The revolution in July caught Brother Sebastian in La Selva del Camp. He decided to take refuge in his birthplace in the village of La Fuliola. On August 15th, at night he heard eight menacing shouts at the door, calling for him; he was thrust into a car which took him to the Police station of Tárrega. The car continued along the road. The car stopped, the militiamen tied our Brother to a tree trunk and fired eight shots.
BROTHERS ANDREU FELÍU AND PAU CASTELLÁ,
Both were born in the same town, both shared the same religious life in the Claretian Congregation, both spent their best years working on the tough Mission of Equatorial Guinea; together they peacefully passed their old age in the same community.
Sons of La Selva del Camp, when the revolutionaries dissolved their Community, both went to their own families, staying there for three months until the Police authorities of Reus decided to upset the quiet routines of their neighbouring town and made up the list of those who should be shot.
They were arrested without further ado on October 26th. They were taken to La Riera de la Cuadra, on the municipal boundary of Reus, to be shot. These two most exemplary Missionaries died for the same cause: for being Religious!
BR. ANTONI VILAMASSANA AND FR. FREDERIC VILA
Throughout Catalonia, the floating prison set up on the cargo boat Cabo Cullera was infamous, but it was soon moved to another more spacious ship, the Rio Segre, also a cargo boat weighing in at 5,000 tons.
It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what life was like there. Amongst the prisoners there were many priests and religious, and lay people who were distinguished Catholics, who passed the time in their own way on deck, despite close monitoring from the red militiamen, who couldn’t stand seeing rosary beads, even though they were made from knotted string!, nor did they tolerate seeing lips that moved in prayer … The way of life was strict: “No lips or fingers, or knots!” …
Some ten Claretians passed through this dreadful prison, but only two of them would leave to meet their deaths: Br. Antoni Vilamassana and Fr. Frederic Vila.
These Claretian Martyrs were beatified in Tarragona on October 13rd, 2013. All of them, according to the motto of the feast of the beatification, were «strong and courageous witnesses of faith». They died forgiving and thus they became martyrs of Christ who, on the Cross, forgave his persecutors.